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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Gordon H. Clark Quote of the Day: What Is Natural Liberty?


"Man's will 'is neither forced nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined.' These words were written to repudiate those philosophies which explain human conduct in terms of physico-chemical law.   . . . Man is not a machine; his motions cannot be described by mathematical equations as can the motions of the planets."  Dr. Gordon H. Clark

 
Many semi-Arminians in the neo-Calvinist camp, including the Van Tilians, assert that man is determined by God's decrees and that man has "free will" in the libertarian sense of the word and that this is a "paradox" that cannot be rationally explained or harmonized from Scripture.  They base this assumption on the Westminster Confession of Faith:


CHAPTER IX—Of Free-Will

  1.      God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil. (Matthew 17:12, James 1:14, Deuteronomy 30:19).


The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).


Clark says, 


".....Now what does the Confession mean by natural liberty? Does a Presbyterian mean the same thing that a Romanist or an Arminian means, when they say that man is free? Are there various concepts of freedom?"

"Obviously there are various concepts of freedom, and some of them have little to do with the present topic. For example, we say today that American citizens are free men, but that the victims of communistic governments are not free. Freedom therefore has a political and an economic sense; but that is not what concerns us here. Reinhold Niebuhr in FAITH AND HISTORY writes pages on freedom; but none of it touches on free will."

"Closer to free will is the question whether or not the will of man is free from his intellect. Theologians in the past have discussed this at length. But that the will is free from the intellect is not what the Confession means by natural liberty. Calvin, for example, asserted that 'the intellect rules the will'; Charles Hodge said that man's 'will was subject to his reason,' and Robert J. Breckenridge taught that our primary conception of will includes the notion of its being directed by the intelligence. The theology behind all this may be a little intricate, and the matter is mentioned only to show that freedom from intellect is not what Presbyterians mean by the concept of freedom."

"What then does the Confession mean by the natural liberty of the will? The remainder of the section quoted answers this question as well as two lines can. Man's will 'is neither forced nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined.' These words were written to repudiate those philosophies which explain human conduct in terms of physico-chemical law. Although the Westminster divines did not know twentieth century behaviorism, nor even Spinoza, they very probably knew Thomas Hobbes, and they certainly knew earlier materialistic theories. That man's conduct is determined by inanimate forces is what the Confession denies. Man is not a machine; his motions cannot be described by mathematical equations as can the motions of the planets. His hopes, plans, and activities are not controlled by physical conditions. He s not determined by any absolute necessity of nature."

Dr. Gordon H. Clark. WHAT DO PRESBYTERIANS BELIEVE? 1965. 2nd edition. (Unicoi: Trinity Foundation, 2001). Pp. 105-106.

Of course, to reject logic is to reject the very propositional statements in Scripture that define Christianity as a system of doctrinal beliefs.  All knowledge is propositional.  The Westminster Confession of Faith does not teach the doctrine of free will as anyone who reads the following sections of chapter IX can see.  According to Dr. Clark, the order of importance of the doctrines in the Westminster Confession of Faith is a descending order, the most important doctrine being Scripture, the second most important doctrine is the Trinity, and the third most important doctrine is predestination or God's eternal decrees.  The doctrine of the bondage of the will does not occur until chapter IX.  But that by no means implies that the Westminster divines thought the doctrine of the bondage of the will was unimportant.

Section 3 makes it clear that free will was lost after the fall.  This definition of free will means freedom from slavery to sin.  Adam before the fall was able not to sin.  After the fall, Adam lost that ability not to sin and Adam and all his progeny lost the ability not to sin.  All are sinners from birth.


3.      Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: (Rom. 5:6, Rom. 8:7, John 15:5) so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, (Rom. 3:10, 12) and dead in sin, (Eph. 2:1, 5, Col. 2:13) is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. (John 6:44, 65, Eph. 2:2–5, 1 Cor. 2:14, Tit. 3:3–5)

The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Reformation Anglican view of free will, also says that there is no free will after the fall of Adam:

X. Of Free Will.

THE condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

Article X.  Of Free Will.

The inability of man to obey God's command to repent and believe the Gospel is a moral inability and not a biological or chemical predetermination to act like animals.  Those who advocate that homosexuals and trans-sexuals are determined by the chemistry in their brain deny natural liberty.  Calvinists deny libertarian free will and assert that man cannot act contrary to God's decrees.  Isaiah 14:24, 27; 46:9-11; Daniel 4:35.


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